Times Square New York
My last night indoors before my 7 days and 7 nights on the street this year I'm spending in Times Square. It wasn't planned to be an intentionally poetic thing. I'm doing a panel talk at CUNY's Graduate Center tonight for Out History. I fly back in the early morning and then head immediately to Davis, CA to preside at the closing worship of the Sierra Pacific Hunger Network's gathering. Then, I'll head immediately to Old First Presbyterian for the Saturday Community Dinner which will feed about 300 people. Afterwards I'll be joining the group of fools (no really, that's what we call ourselves - Faithful Fools after St. Francis of Assisi) and I'll be one of the huddled masses sleeping on the concrete outside of First Unitarian Universalist Church.
This street retreat, I'll be working on and off while I sleep on the streets at night. While this is a little different from past years, I think it will be a revelatory experience. First, I always find it helpful to feel how it feels in my bones to participate in the typical activities that I regularly ask homeless volunteers to participate in. Experiencing it helps me to understand what are unhelpful rules or just make life more difficult and painful for folk.
Another purpose of my continuing to work is to highlight the struggles of the working poor. This time in our economy more than ever, there are so many people working jobs that don't pay all their bills. Even I, someone very well off compared to the lives of those living on the streets, is currently working more than one job in order to get out from under debt, to pay my exceedingly high mortgage and because I haven't had a raise in three years.
And though there are a million reasons that my working while on street retreat can be illuminating, the final one I'll give here, is that during this week before the anniversary of the Reformation I want to highlight the way that pastors that chose to serve those with the least are consistently overworked and underpaid.
Without the ability to get good self care (through vacations, time off to think, time away from crisis and time away from bill worries both at work and home.
So for all these reasons, and all those that will come to me along the way, I officially declare my street retreat (from October 23 - 30) a call for a reformation to: solve domestic poverty; to pay living wages for individuals and families; and to provide self care and support with our prayers, money and priorities for pastors, particularly those engaged in community ministry or the diaconate, to get the self care they need.
Join me on my street retreat/reformation at: mystreetretreat.blogspot.com
And since I will beg on the streets, and in most of these notes, you might as well get used to me begging you to support the vital work that I'm able to do at Welcome. (via the mail: 1751 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109 or via the interwebs at: www.sfwelcome.org).
I get the privilege of developing creative ways for folk to respond to poverty - whether they live in it or not. If you feel like my blog will entertain you as much as a movie, give $11. If it makes you think like a book would, give $25. If it feels like church, consider tithing %15 of next weeks salary. If you learn as much as a college class consider donating $255. If it changes your life, or at least your perspective, how much is that worth to you?
Since most of my time is spent finding ways to make things free that people in poverty can't afford, I won't be upset if you don't give. But, anything you do give will help me spend less time begging (and more time helping those living in poverty improving their quality of life) when my street retreat is over.
Blessings upon blessings to you and yours. May you be warm and fed, today and all the days of your life.
Location:Time Square, NY, NY,United States